Life Abroad
10 min

Countries with the best healthcare system for students

Healthcare differs from one country to another. Some countries provide free universal healthcare; however, some don’t, and insurance becomes a large chunk of a student’s annual budget.

Western and Northern European countries usually top the list of those countries that organise the student’s healthcare efficiently and affordably. Things are more accessible for EU/EEA citizens or Swiss nationals who can always use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access healthcare services during their stay in another European country. However, for non-European students, access to healthcare can become an issue. It’s important to be aware of all of the rules and regulations regarding medical services when choosing a country to study in. 

Let’s look at five countries famous for their healthcare system for international students. 

  1. Denmark

International students who stay in Denmark for more than three months get a social security number (a CPR number) that entitles them to use the National Danish Health Service and receive free medical treatment in clinics and hospitals.

Students who obtained residence permits should visit the citizen service office at the local municipality to register.  Three to four weeks after registration, they will get their yellow health insurance card with a social security number. The student should return the card to the centre as soon as the studies are finished.

When students receive their insurance card, they also get a GP (General Practitioner) assigned to them: their contact details will be written on the card.

The Danish National Health Service does not cover those still waiting for their insurance card; therefore, they are advised to take out private health insurance to cover them in the interim. Additionally, the Danish public healthcare system covers emergency healthcare even for non-residents. However, it does not cover transportation to the home country in case of an emergency.

  1. The United Kingdom

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is the state healthcare system that provides a wide range of services, including doctor’s appointments, emergency treatment, hospital visits, and partial dental care coverage. Thanks to this healthcare system, international students do not need private medical insurance when applying for a student visa in the UK.

Access to the NHS costs £470 per year for those who need a visa. This money is paid during the visa application process - and if the visa is refused, the money is refunded.

Most UK universities advise their students to register with a doctor as soon as they arrive in the UK. That way, students can receive emergency care if they need it and access health services quickly and easily, according to the NHS website.

  1. Finland

This Nordic country provides Student healthcare services (FSHS) to all degree students.

FSHS offers access to doctor’s consultations, including for mental health issues.  The FSHS even performs minor surgeries such as birthmark removal but does not cover demanding surgeries that would require anaesthetics.

Students can access FSHS all over the country during the weekdays throughout the year. Since January 2021, students must pay a small fee (EUR 35.80) per term for these services.

Note that you still need to take out private insurance that will cover your medical and drug expenses in order to obtain a Finnish residence permit for your studies. The good thing is that this private insurance will, most likely, cover the whole Schengen area, and you can choose the most affordable option from your local providers.

  1. France

All international students, including non-European, under 28 years of age can have their medical fees reimbursed. Those over 28 years of age must provide private health insurance when applying for a visa.

Students must register for the French general social security system when enrolling in a higher education institution.  A few documents are needed in order to do so. After students arrive in France, validate their residence permit, and open a bank account, the file will be completed, and they will get their final social security number.

Social insurance consists of two parts: social security covers 70%, and the rest is covered by extra health insurance called 'Mutuelle,' administered by private companies that offer annual contracts for various prices.

There are two ways a student can see a doctor in France. The first is to go to special health services within the universities called Service Universitaire de Médecine Préventive et de Promotion de la Santé (SUMPPS). Some visits at SUMPPS are free of charge (for example, those related to contraception, testing, vaccinations, nutrition, and psychological monitoring). The second way is to go to General Practitioners/specialists. The price for a visit can be reimbursed partly or in full (depending on the student’s wish to take Mutuelle).

  1. Norway

If international students in Norway intend to stay in the country for at least 12 months, they become members of the National Insurance Scheme. In that case, they are entitled to subsidised health care from the public healthcare system. If the stay is between 3 and 12 months, students can apply for voluntary membership in the National Insurance Scheme.

Some educational institutions in Norway also provide on-campus health services. The semester card entitles students to free medical treatment at those health services. 

Having health insurance is not required when applying for a student visa in Norway. Private health insurance can be used, for example, to meet the costs of medical transport back to the students’ home country in case of emergency. Therefore, it is advised to have it.

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